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1997 Toyota Tacoma - Smooth Taco

So Clean You Could Eat Off It

Mike Alexander
Aug 1, 2010
Contributors: John Jackson
Photographers: John Jackson
Owner: Grady Shipp Jr.
Ride: 1997 Toyota Tacoma
Hometown: Joliet, IL
Club: Relaxed Atmosphere
Photo 2/6   |   1997 Toyota Tacoma right Side View
Every time you go to a show, you always hear people say, "You just gotta see this truck, it's the coolest truck here."
Now, we've learned over time to take that with a grain of salt, but this wasn't just any show. It was at the world-famous Relaxed Atmosphere All-Star Event, so the truck everyone was talking about had to be something special. As we made our way through a sea of crazy body-dropped minis, we came upon this incredible, glowing red Taco built by Grady Shipp.
Grady decided he wanted to build a really clean minitruck that would rival any truck on the scene, but he was tired of trucks that were overdone. He set out to build a simple and classy mini that could be driven but would still tear up the show fields. So with the help of his buddy Ryan Saltzman, he started working on the factory frame by Z'ing the front framerails and boxing the back half of the frame with a custom notch. After the frame was dialed, they gave the truck a 2-1/2-inch bodydrop, shaved all the nonessentials, sectioned the front bed cap, smoothed all the welds, and finally wrapped it all up with a Grant Kustoms flip kit and rollpan.
Photo 3/6   |   1997 Toyota Tacoma rear Right View
This is where most do-it-yourselfers would turn it over to a professional for the paint, but not Grady. Grady conned Jason Zolper at Zolper's Auto Restoration into letting him use his spray booth to go to town. The ultraslick PPG Viper Red paintjob that Grady laid down gives this truck its eye-catching appearance and drew a crowd to it all weekend long at the RA show where it was debuted to the show circuit.
Grady had the paint to draw people to the truck, and he knew that he had to come up with an interior that would keep people's attention after the first glance. So after a few weeks of trying to figure out how to incorporate the perfect blend of both mild and wild, Grady had the perfect solution. Starting out with some chopped-up Fiero seats, Kevin Jackson at Coverall Upholstery laid down a slick leather and crocodile upholstery scheme while Grady worked on the dash and blacking everything out. This interior combination really makes the truck stand out no matter what type of customs you might be into.
Photo 4/6   |   1997 Toyota Tacoma custom Interior
At our photo shoot, Grady was asked how he liked the RA show. He responded, "It's one of the best shows I've ever attended, but the real reason I came all the way from northern Illinois with the Taco was in hopes that it might get shot for Mini Truckin'."
It must've been true, because when we tried to get up with him the next morning to thank him for letting us be the first to shoot his smooth Taco, he had already loaded up and was almost home. Grady received one of the coveted Top 50 trophies, and even better, soon after he got home he was added to the Illinois chapter roster of Relaxed Atmosphere.
For more info on this killer Taco, peep the Lowdown.
Rolling Attire

Wheels: 20-inch Intro V-rods
Backspace: 6 1/2 inches
Tires: Nitto 555
Photo 5/6   |   1997 Toyota Tacoma interior
Chassis Modifications
Suspension Type: Air ride
Suspension: Cando A-arms (front) / custom wishbone four-link (rear)
Airbag Size: Slam Specialties RE-6 (front) / Slam Specialties RE-7 (rear)
Control Arms: Cando Specialties
Shocks: Monroe
Valves: 1/2-inch Parker valves
Air Accessories: Seven-switch AVS switchbox
Frame Mods: Z'd framerails, back-half boxed, custom notch
Gas Tank: Choppin' Block custom fuel cell
Brakes: Wilwood brakes
Performed By: Ryan Saltzman and owner
Body Modifications
Shaved: Gas door, hood squirters, antenna, tailgate handle
Body-dropped: 2 1/2 inches
Front End: 4WD fenders
Back End: Grant Kustoms flip kit welded in place, Grant Kustoms rollpan
Taillights: Red and clear taillights
Exterior Bolt-ons: Crystal-clear headlights and clear side-marker lights, 4WD front bumper and valance, T-Rex billet prerunner grille
Misc.: Stock bedfloor was raised and all spot welds on the entire truck were smoothed
Performed By: Ryan Saltzman and owner

Brand & Colors: PPG Viper Red
Performed By: Owner
Photo 6/6   |   1997 Toyota Tacoma truck Bed
Seats: Fiero buckets with the headrests cut off
Material: Leather and crocodile
Dash: Smoothed dash painted black
Door Panels: Leather and crocodile
Flooring: Custom carpeting
Headliner: Leather
Gauges: AVS dual-needle
Misc.: Billet Accessories direct billet steering wheel
Performed By: Seats and door panels by Kevin Jackson at Coverall Upholstery, rest done by owner
Head Unit: Pioneer Avid-D1 double-DIN
Mids & Highs: Alpine Sps-600 6-1/2-inch speakers
Video: Pioneer Avid-D1
Performed By: Owner
Engine Bay/Performance
Intake: AEM intake
Header/Exhaust: Pacesetter Header with custom exhaust
Ignition: LC Engineering plugs and wires
Rearend: Narrowed 2 inches each side with Moser axles
Battery: Optima
Inner Fenders: Removed and rounded to the contours of the tires
Detail Work: Engine compartment painted flat black
Misc.: LC Engineering valve cover, '67 Corvette brake booster and master cylinder
Performed By: Ryan Saltzman and owner
Special Thanks From Owner
"Special thanks to Ryan Saltzman as the endless build of this truck wouldn't be what it is now if it wasn't for him. Also to Jason Zolper at Zolper's Auto Restorations for the usage of his paint booth, and everyone else for the help and support."



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